Vast plagues of locusts have continued to spread across East Africa, causing many to fear that the infestation could usher in a large-scale famine.
The pests have been destroying everything in their path as they swarm across countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and now South Sudan. Experts believe it is the largest plague to hit Kenya since the 1950s, with the locusts lingering and breeding as a result of an increase in rains and flooding last year. The swarms are so great, many are even comparing them to the plague of locusts dropped upon Egypt in the biblical book of Exodus.
Now, Christian charity World Vision – which partners with many countries across the region – has talked of the profound and devastating impact the swarms are having on local communities.
“[From what] I understand their appetite is quite huge,” World Vision’s regional director for humanitarian and emergency affairs in East Africa, Joseph Kamara, told The Christian Post. “A swarm eats more than elephants in terms of quantity. And that's just one swarm. So if each locust lays about 900 eggs, you can imagine what that means.”
The United Nations has said that each swarm – made up of 150 million of the insects – can consume as much vegetation as 35,000 humans.
The most effective way of controlling the spread is to spray pesticide. Unfortunately, many of the affected countries do not have the correct infrastructure required to tackle the crisis.
“We need chemicals for spraying and also sprayers,” said South Sudan’s Agriculture Minister, Onyoti Adigo Nyikuac, according to the AFP. “You will also need cars to move while spraying and then later if it becomes worse, we will need aircraft.”
After horrific periods of flooding and following a brutal period of civil war, in December, the UN estimated that some 60% of South Sudan’s population was facing food insecurity. Now, with the locusts reproducing and a second hatch estimated in two weeks or so, many are fearing a full-scale famine across the region.
“There has been a food deficit,” Kamara said. “But I fear that this is going to worsen. If we don’t control [the locusts] and we lose the coming [cropping] season, that is going to put about 90 million people across the region through a serious food crisis.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pledged $8 million to help fight the insects, but the UN estimates that roughly $76m is required from the international community in order to fund the spraying of the affected areas with insecticide.
“I feel very bad,” one devastated farmer told the BBC. “For several years now, we cultivated our farms but received no rain. It’s only this time that we get lucky. When we got lucky [with the rains], the locusts have come to destroy our crops.”
Now, Kamara has called on believers to pray for all those affected by these horrific events.
“After back-to-back droughts and then floods and now this, it’s like we need divine intervention — God’s hand,” he explained. “Also, we need people to continue being generous and support our efforts to reach out to the people.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Luke Dray/Stringer
Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.